Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he supports the entire 96-page report released by the Police Act reform committee – including the recommendation not allowing mayors to serve as police board chairs.
McCallum, who serves as chair of the Surrey Police Board, told the Now-Leader he “fully” supports the recommendation and he hopes the provincial government “moves fairly quickly on it to get it going.”
The Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act released its report Thursday (April 28). It included 11 recommendations to “transform policing and community safety.” The 10-person all-party committee also included three Surrey MLAs: Garry Begg for Surrey-Guildford, Trevor Halford for Surrey-White Rock and Rachna Singh for Surrey-Green Timbers.
The report recommends “ensuring municipal council representation on municipal police boards or committees, while not allowing the mayor to serve as board chair.”
While McCallum said such a move would help prevent conflicts between the two roles.
“It does bring up some feeling that person could be in a bit of a conflict doing both of them,” McCallum said shortly after the report was released, noting he was contacted during the reporting process.
“It’s just the structure, the governance structure, isn’t right,” said McCallum, noting the mayor does not vote as board chair unless it’s a tie.
Meantime, the report also states B.C.’s patchwork of RCMP and municipal police forces should “transition to a new B.C. provincial police service,” amalgamating police services on a regional basis.
Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley is committee chair.
“British Columbians highlighted significant challenges in the structure and delivery of police services, which have contributed to a lack of trust in these services,” he stated in a release. “The committee’s report outlines a new vision of policing and community safety rooted in decolonization, anti-racism, community and accountability.”
McCallum noted it’s a “really good move” to turn to a provincial police service.
“I think that’s a really good way to run the public safety in the province because what it does is it brings local governance and sort of local accountability and local decision making into each place in B.C. rather than from Ottawa,” he said.
“I think it’s a super recommendation.”
The committee also recommends a single civilian oversight system for police, and a “fair and equitable shared funding model for municipalities.” Currently B.C. has a police complaint commission, an independent investigator for police-involved deaths and injuries, and a system of funding for RCMP detachments based on the size of the community.
– With files from Tom Fletcher